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Old 10-03-2013, 08:14 PM
skruface's Avatar
skruface skruface is offline
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Join Date: May 2011
Location: Canada
Age: 45
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Vehicle: 2011 Dodge Ram 1500
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I did a TON of research on this for my 2011. Benefit from my research.

Everyone, and I mean to a person, including some serious 4X4 guys who do MOAB yearly and actually own 4X4 shops, told me that a full-on bumper replacement is generally superior to a grill guard or front receiver mount, because of the way they mount to the frame rails - the grill guards generally mount to the tow hook locations, but do not "box in" both sides of the frame rail; they only mount on one side or the other. Yes, bumper replacements are heavy and expensive, but if your life relies on your truck to get you in and out, I consider it money well spent.

Another issue to consider is that a front receiver hitch mounted under the front bumper is going to have your winch hanging really low to the ground. If you're going places where you might need a winch to get out, your winch probably shouldn't be the lowest point of ground clearance on your approach angle...

So, that leaves the middle ground - grill guards with a winch mount. Most will only handle up to a 9k winch or thereabouts, but there are some nice ones out there.

Initially I had seen a prototype media shots of a Westin HDX grill guard with a winch tray on an F150; it wasn't in production yet when I was looking to buy, but they make them now:

Westin does make a model called the Sportsman grill guard with a winch tray, though. I'm not super fond of the look (don't like the little bars in front of the headlights) but at just under $700 it was definitely the cheapest I found, and it'll hold up to a 12k winch, too.

I also looked at a Go Industries full bumper replacement; not my style, but Go Industries now makes a decent grill guard with winch tray for around $850 - that's a really fair price.

The WARN Trans4mer 2 is a really nice and well built setup, but will run you almost as much as a full on bumper replacement. I looked at it, but couldn't justify the price compared to a bumper. The nice thing is that it's modular - you can buy parts (like the winch tray and mount) now, and add accessories (light mounting tabs, light loops) later on as your finances allow.
Iron Cross HD Step review:
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